TOKYO (May 2) — Bridgestone Corp. reported gains in operating earnings of 8.4 percent and sales of 9.3 percent for the first quarter, supported by strong international sales.
The firm revised upward its forecast for the first half based on a weaker-than-anticipated yen.
For the three months ended March 31, Bridgestone reported operating income of $436.1 million and sales of $6.52 billion. Net income was up 3.3 percent to $237.9 million.
Tire segment sales grew 11.1 percent to $5.28 billion while diversified products improved 1.9 percent to $1.3 billion. The tire segment´s operating income improved 14.4 percent during the period to $343.8 million (6.5 percent of sales), whereas diversified products operating profits fell 6.1 percent to $91.4 million (7 percent of sales).
Bridgestone´s European operations led the way internationally, reporting a 38.7-percent jump in earnings and a 25.1-percent increase in sales.
Operating income in the Americas dropped 14 percent to $93.1 million on sales of $2.85 billion, a 7.1-percent increase. Bridgestone attributed the sales growth to expanded sales of higher-value-added products, which offset a slight drop in tire unit sales in North America.
Sales in Japan grew 6 percent on flat unit sales, whereas the company´s sales in other geographic areas (Asia, Africa, Middle East, Australia) jumped 21.5 percent as the company pursued marketing activities in those areas.
For the first half of 2007, Bridgestone is forecasting double-digit improvements in earnings over the forecast issued in January, along with a 6.5-percent gain in sales, to more than $13 billion.